Entrepreneurs in the Making: First Few Days on a First-Time Program

Authored by:
Jennifer Rives

Jennifer Rives

This summer, CIEE Shanghai is operating the Global Discovery: Global Entrepreneurship program for the very first time. This program is CIEE's first Global Entrepreneurship program in China! In the first weekend of July, 40 students from all over the United States arrived in Shanghai to be the first cohort the program has ever seen. 

Thuy An, Juliet, Ngat, and Gabi on their way to Shanghai
Students meeting for the group flight to Shanghai

After arriving at the Shanghai airport on Sunday, students took a shuttle bus to the comfortable and classy Vienna Hotel. There, they met their new roommates and checked in. After exploring a bit of the surrounding area, students felt ready and excited for the program to get started.

At program orientation on Monday, we introduced students to the schedule of the program, the city of Shanghai, and the East China Normal University (ECNU) Campus. On that day, we also took students out for a welcome lunch at a nice restaurant inside the Global Harbor Mall and gave them a tour of the ECNU campus, which will be their home for the next 3 weeks.

Program leaders leading an ice breaker activity at orientation
Niko and Ludo posing with the Mao Zedong statue on campus
Matthew and Jiahao walking to ECNU campus together

On day two, students had their first entrepreneurship class in the morning. The students were divided into 2 classes with 2 different professors. The first professor is Ken Howell, who is an educational and training professional in a managerial position with more than 25 years’ experience in delivering marketing, management and leadership training to businesses and in educational settings. He has particular expertise in international business practices and cross-cultural awareness and has been a visiting Professor at Universities in Singapore, Malaysia, and China.

Professor Ken answering students' questions
Professor Ken explaining how McDonald's strategically chooses all its locations

The second professor is Nicholas Krapels, who is an American writer, educator, and entrepreneur who has lived in China since 2011. He has Big 4 experience with PwC and teaches finance and business management courses at East China Normal University in Shanghai and in the EMBA program at Tongji University.

Students learning from Professor K

After learning more about what entrepreneurship entails, students had their first functional/survival Chinese class. There were 2 different levels of Chinese classes. In level 1, students got to learn the basics of pinyin (Chinese pronunciation) and survival Chinese skills like greetings, self-introductions, numbers, and how to order milk tea.

Class 1 learning pinyin and pronunciation from Shao laoshi
Class 1 learning how to order milk tea in Chinese

Level 2 students got to refresh on a few of these topics as well at a higher level. At the end of class, they even got to go out as a group to buy milk tea for themselves.

Xu laoshi introducing the city of Shanghai in Chinese
Tracy introducing herself in Chinese
All smiles in the level 2 class

After successfully ordering their milk teas in Chinese, students got to end the day with a movie night. They watched the movie "Founder," which tells the story of the founding of the McDonalds franchise. Students had discussed McDonalds' business model that same day in class, and they enjoyed learning more about the company's founding and takeoff through watching the movie. After a day full of learning, students got to have free time to eat dinner and explore the area near the school on their own. 

Students having dinner in the mall near the hotel
Friendships forming over Chinese food
Posing with Thomas the Train in the Global Harbor Mall

The next day, after another morning of entrepreneurship classes, students got to listen to 2 guest speakers. The guest speakers were owners and founders of local restaurant businesses. The first speaker was Mr. Han, the owner of a Taiwanese-style restaurant called Bellagio. This restaurant has been lucratively developing its business in China for the past 20 years. The second speaker was Mr. Cui, the founder of the restaurant franchise Mr. Pancake (Mr. Jianbing). Mr. Cui was a former winner of the Forbes 30 Under 30 award.

Students enjoyed learning from the real-life experiences of these successful Chinese entrepreneurs and learning more about what the restaurant business is like in China and Shanghai.

Learning about the restaurant business in China from Mr. Han
Group photo with Mr. Han and Mr. Cui
Students with Mr. Han and Mr. Cui

All in all, these first few days on the program have been full of opportunities to make new friends, speak Chinese, and learn about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. In the next couple of days, we'll be taking students on field trips and excursions so they can become familiar with the sites of cultural and entrepreneurial interest in Shanghai. The students are already learning so much on the program, but we're looking forward to seeing what more they'll learn and experience over the next 3 weeks in Shanghai! 

Lili asking Professor Ken how foreign businesses operate in China
Having some fun in between classes 


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